Is Being Gay Biological or a Choice?


| 6 Comments
Last night in my dorm room, some friends and I were discussing the controversial question of whether people are born gay or whether they choose to be gay. I decided to research this very controversial topic in the world today and relate to science. Since there is no definite scientific proof yet to support either side, I would like to present both sides to be fair. In the end, this simply comes down to the nature vs. nurture debate.


men-holding-hands.jpg

First, the side that claims, "There is no biological gene that causes someone to be gay. It is their choice to be attracted to and pursue someone of their same sex."
People who support this view are convinced that one's culture, environment, upbringing, and personal experiences are the cause of sexual orientation. Their big point is that brain development does not stop at birth. Many people who support this view that sexual orientation can be changed. Acting on homosexual feelings can be stopped just like one would quit smoking. 


Second, the side that claims, "There is a biological gene that causes someone to be gay. People are born the way they are, gay or straight, and cannot choose to be either."
There have been several studies conducted that show differences between the brains of straight men and the brains of gay men. The hypothalamus controls the release of sexual hormones. The third intersitial nucleus of the hypothalamus was found to be twice as large in straight men than in gay men. When the study was reviewed later, the size difference was indicated as not important, however, scientists discovered that neurons are packed closer together in the third intersitial nucleus in gay men than in straight men. This might indicate a biological cause of homosexuality. Another interesting study showed that the amygdala in gay men resembled that of a straight woman. The amygdala is associated with the release of sex hormones and emotion. Another study suggests that the exposure to certain sex hormones during a critical period in the womb may affect sexual orientation. There are many other studies like these that are not yet deemed concrete and factual, but very well might indicate that homosexuality has a biological cause. 

Personally, I believe that there must be some type of biological predisposition. May some people possibly choose to act in a homosexual manner? Yes, I think that is fair to say. However, I do not think it is fair to assume that every single homosexual individual simply chooses that lifestyle. As a heterosexual person, I cannot assume anything because I do not know what it would be like to be gay. I think as scientific research continues on this topic, we will gain more information.


Check out this link to the American Psychological Association for more info

Feel free to comment, but please be respectful since this is a sensitive topic. Thank you!


Works Cited:

Korte, Travis. "Homosexuality & Choice: Are Gay People 'Born This Way?" The Huffington                Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 23 Oct. 2012. Web. 12 Sept. 2013.

6 Comments

I find this debate so interesting! I took Anthropology 216 with Dr. Puts my freshman year, and this topic was a major chunk of the course. I was fascinated by it! As you said, there really is no set answer, and thus, people tend to form their own opinions off personal experience or observation. However, in class, Dr. Puts mentioned how a great way to study the potential "cause" is to look at twin studies, and to compare identical and fraternal twins. I pasted a link below of a short, informative video, in which a professor of human genetics takes a similar approach. It makes a lot of sense quite honestly, check it out!
The controversial topic is still a mystery to me and, as much as I do believe societal influences can drive a person one way or another, I also agree that there must be some underlying biological factor.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HqEvCUBkzjI

Sexual orientation is always so interesting to look into and discuss. When pondering this topic I like to think of real life examples. I know several of homosexual people. I totally agree with how it's entirely a nature vs. nurture debate. When thinking about this and the homosexual people I know, it's really tough to have an opinion. You see the homosexual people that maybe have strong female influences in their life that may have caused them to be more feminine... And then you see the homosexual people that have been surrounded by very "manly" men and are close with their father, etc. It varies so drastically. It'll definitely be interesting to see how science can prove different things. It seems they are definitely making progress. Not only with the science of homosexuality, but also the societal acceptance of homosexuality. It's every where these days :)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wV1FrqwZyKw
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlVBg7_08n0

It truly amazes me that there are still some people out there who think being homosexual is a decision one makes. Who would make that decision knowing that they could be setting themselves up for bullying, backlash, etc...? No one wants that! Where is their evidence that everyone is born straight, anyway?
I'm just glad that the gay rights movement has been making major progress. Our society is definitely moving in the right direction. Here's a commercial that everyone should watch at some point, it's really moving:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TBd-UCwVAY

It breaks my heart that there's homosexual people out there that think they have to try and "change" to fit in with society. Recently one of my friends came out, and announced that she had been hiding it for 12 years because she was trying to "make herself straight." Being homosexual in my opinion is definitely biological, and in the changing times today, it amazes me that so many people still believe it is a choice. While there is no evidence that a clear "gay gene" exists, who knows what the future of science holds! Society makes "gay" seem "not normal," but who's to judge what "normal" even means?

Hi Sam,

I'm so glad you did a blog post on this topic. I as well am planning to do one on the same subject matter. Gay rights is something that I am very passionate about. My eldest brother came out to me when I was in the seventh grade, and I have always had his back when this arguement arises. Some members of my extended family are very religious, and when they heard that my brother had come out, were enfuriated. "He is choosing to be a sinner, choosing to go to hell" they would say. You can only imagine how much these comments upset my family. For arguement's sake, my mom did some research on the actual science behind homosexuality, and I can ensure you it is infact something that you are born with. I hope that there will be even more studies done in the future that will help prove this even more. Again, thanks for your post!

Megan

A few of my closest friends are lesbian women, so this is a very important issue to me. Despite past assumptions, most experts currently theorize that sexual orientation is not a choice, but rather something that is influenced by a number of factors, many of them biological. There is evidence that orientation is determined in utero, for example: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/5120004.stm
I think another compelling indicator that orientation is not chosen is the catastrophic failure of the 'conversion therapy' (probably better known as "pray away the gay") institutions: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/30/conversion-therapy-survey_n_3354253.html

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